Release: Federal Taxes Drop for Middle Class

WASHINGTON, April 15 – On today’s income tax filing deadline, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said federal taxes are down for most middle-class Vermonters and Americans but much more needs to be done to create a fair and equitable tax system.

“Despite much political rhetoric to the contrary, 99 percent of Vermont working families and individuals received a much-needed average federal tax cut of over $1,100 for 2009,” Sanders said.

As a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, some 300,000 Vermont households were able to receive a tax cut of up to $400 ($800 for married couples). Further, 14,000 Vermont families were able to receive an expanded tax cut to send their kids to college last year. More than 20,000 Vermont children benefitted from an expansion in the child tax credit. Nearly 60,000 Vermont small businesses received tax cuts to purchase new equipment and other things. 

Nationwide, Congress cut individual federal income taxes by about $173 billion shortly after President Obama took office. “This tax relief is welcome news for Vermonters who continue to suffer through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” the senator said.

While federal taxes on middle class fell, Bush-era tax breaks for the wealthy continue to increase the skyrocketing federal deficit and too many large corporations took advantage of loopholes in the tax code to evade paying billions of dollars. 

“Congress has a lot of work to do to create a fairer tax system. This tax day we must resolve to make the tax code more progressive, simpler and fairer to the American people,” Sanders said.

“With the top 1 percent now earning more income than the bottom 50 percent and the gap between the very rich and everyone else growing wider, we have to make sure that the wealthiest in our society and the largest and most profitable corporations in America pay their fair share in taxes. This is especially relevant given the reality that we have a record-breaking deficit and our national debt is approaching $13 trillion.” 

The federal tax code is so absurd that Warren Buffett, the third richest person in the world worth $47 billion, pays a lower overall tax rate than his secretary.  Equally outrageous is the fact that the top 25 hedge fund managers who made an average of $1 billion last year, pay a lower effective tax rate than many teachers, nurses, police officers, and fire fighters. 

Sanders also called it a “national disgrace” that Exxon Mobil, the most profitable corporation in history, evaded paying billions in taxes last year by setting up tax shelters in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, among other things.  “As gas prices continue to climb, making it harder for Vermonters to afford to commute to work, Exxon Mobil shouldn't be allowed to skirt its tax bill by setting up bogus tax shelters in the Caribbean,” he said.

A member of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders said he will work to repeal the Bush tax breaks for the wealthiest 1 percent, end corporate tax loopholes, and make the tax code fairer and simpler for ordinary Vermonters.